Nothing that could have went right for the 2011 Minnesota Twins really did. The lowlights of this awful season were their two star players, Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau, each missing a huge chunk of time. No matter what happens in 2012 for the Twins, it'll pretty much depend on Mauer and Morneau to stay healthy. If they can each player in 130-140 games, the Twins could be much better in 2012 than they were in 2011.
Depth Chart (as of 3/23)
C: Joe Mauer
1B: Justin Morneau
2B: Alexi Casilla
SS: Jamey Carroll
3B: Danny Valencia
LF: Ben Revere
CF: Denard Span
RF: Josh Willingham
DH: Ryan Doumit
SP: Carl Pavano
SP: Francisco Liriano
SP: Scott Baker
SP: Nick Blackburn
SP: Jason Marquis
CL: Matt Capps
The Twins brought in a pair of all-bat, no-defense guys who will get time at a variety of positions (including first, right, catcher, and DH) in Ryan Doumit and Josh Willingham. The Twinkies also brought in a new shorstop after the disastrous Tsuyoshi Nishioka experiment last year in veteran Jamey Carroll. Minnesota also picked up a fifth starter (Jason Marquis), and a potentially dominant bullpen arm (Joel Zumaya), though Zumaya already blew out his elbow this spring.
A pair of long-time Twins departed this offseason, as Michael Cuddyer signed with the Rockies and Jason Kubel went to the Diamondbacks. Long-time closer Joe Nathan also departed, signing with the Rangers, and reliever Jose Mijares went to the Royals. The Twins also traded starter/long reliever Kevin Slowey to the Rockies.
First baseman Chris Parmelee has mashed in the minors, but is blocked by a cadre of veterans in the majors. Starting pitcher Liam Hendriks appears to be one injury away from a spot in the rotation, though.
Right now, there isn't much of a battle anywhere the diamond. However, if one of Minnesota's fragile starters gets hurt, there is going to be a free for all for playing time among guys like Doumit, Willingham, and Mauer. This is when someone like Parmelee can slide in and play every day.
Zumaya blew out his elbow earlier this month, and his career could be over with Tommy John looming on the horizon. Mauer's back started giving him problems last year, and that's not something you want from a catcher. Morneau has had concussion issues for the past season and a half, and those could be an issue if he's still not over them.
Is Francisco Liriano ever going to consistently be an ace pitcher?
Mauer and Morneau each play in 150 games and hit like former MVPs. Francisco Liriano and Carl Pavano anchor the top of the rotation admirably, and the Twins win 90 games and contend for a wild card spot.
Mauer and Morneau each miss at least half the season. Liriano continues his downward spiral. The new free agent outfielders flop horribly, and the Twins occupy the AL Central basement again.
This isn't necessarily a GREAT team, but they've got potential based on health and upside from veterans. However, they didn't capitalize on that last season at all. If they're unable to stay healthy, this is a basement dweller.
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